For some odd reason I was not too alarmed about this apparition in the midst of my house. “Who are you?” I asked. He did not answer right away since he seemed to be distracted by his surroundings. “Hey you, excuse me who are you?” I insisted. Startled, the gentleman looked down upon me sprawled on my couch, picked up my glass of single malt and sniffed it and plainly stated, “I am Adam Smith sir and you are to follow me at once.” Without pause for thought I got up off the couch and followed Mr. Smith out the front door -that single malt is strong stuff.
Once we had gone through my front door everything around us turned white -so this is what a KKK cross burning looks like- and though I could not feel any floor or gravitational pull I felt extremely stable. The wigged gentleman waved his arm and things began to emerge around us, storefronts peddling all sorts of goods and services like milk, shoes, haircuts and “XXX”, factories where cars, TVs, Computers and airplanes were being built and floors of stock exchanges from all over the world from Seoul to Paris with traders scurrying about. I asked Mr. Smith, “Where are we?” He calmly turned, looking at me as if I were some sort of confused inferior being, and said, “We are on a journey that will take us to the depths of the economy.”
We began to descend, as all the visions of store fronts, factories and stock exchanges twirled around us at ever increasing speeds, and the temperature began to rise (perhaps the effects from the single malt). Suddenly everything disappeared around us and it was very dark and hot. Before my eyes could adjust, bursts of flames came from all around us. Now I could feel terra firma below my feet, it felt hard and rock like. It was difficult to see, but the landscape appeared full of large rocks and bursts of flames would sporadically shoot up from the ground.
I asked Mr. Smith,“Where are we?” “Follow me,” he answered, and motioned with his hand. I walked behind him on a small trail between the rocks until we came to a clearing. There I could see a large figure toiling in what appeared to be a 19th century factory. At one point the large figure stopped working and entered an office with a sign on it that said “Manager.” The figure emerged, counting some sort of currency, and was quickly attacked by some small demonic creatures who took all his currency. The large figure slowly lumbered back to his spot in the factory and continued to toil. The scene went on repeatedly.
I looked at my guide who signaled me to approach the large figure. I walked closer and closer, and as I approached I could see he had a long white beard. It was - No it wasn’t Santa Clause! - Karl Marx the father of communism. “Mr. Marx," I asked, "what are you doing here?” he looked up at me his eyes empty and listless and said, “I have been condemned to live out my theories for eternity.” With that he turned away and continued his work in the factory.
Mr. Smith motioned me to follow him and, again, we were on the small trail through the rocks, emerging at a river. As I observed the river I noticed it was not a body of running water, but of running dollar bills, in the river was a man who kept clutching at the dollar bills but every time he would sink under the endless stream of currency only to reemerge empty handed, grab more bills and sink again. I carefully approached the river bank and strained my eyes in order to identify the man. It was Sir John Maynard Keynes
Keynes was yelling at me but I could not make out exactly what he was saying. Then he pointed in the direction the stream was flowing from and there I saw a huge spigot labeled “Government” which was releasing the endless streams of money. Sir Keynes was asking me to shut off the spigot. I looked back at Mr. Smith who, reading my mind, sternly shook his head NO. “Lord Keynes is condemned to eternally exist awash in worthless currency,” he said in a calm monotone voice. With that we continued on our journey.
I now noticed that the trail lead us on a downward spiral. We finally arrived at a small clearing with a large flat rock in the middle. On the rock was a wiry bespectacled fellow with a rather large nose. At first I suspected it might be Woody Allen, but upon closer observation I realized it was Alan Greenspan, who was busy pushing down on a large interest or percentage symbol (%). As he pushed down on the symbol a large bubble would gradually inflate behind him and when he would finally sink the symbol into the ground the bubble would pop making an ear piercing bang. Mr. Greenspan released the interest rate symbol and looked behind him, but saw nothing. The symbol popped back up and Mr. Greenspan then turned and began pushing it back into the ground as the bubble again appeared and began to inflate once more.
I was going to tell Mr. Greenspan about the bubble But Mr. Smith put his index finger on his lips and whispered to me “He knows full well the bubble is there and until he admits it he will be condemned to this rock.”
Once again we were on the small rocky path and our descent became steeper. When we came to the next clearing there were two gigantic signs. One said “WAGES” and the other “PRICES.” At the other end of the clearing was a cliff about 100 feet high and on it was a figure who jumped and tried to break his fall by landing on the signs, but once he landed the signs would tilt and he rolled off. As the man dusted himself off I immediately recognized his distinct silhouette, it was Richard Nixon. He then turned and proceeded to climb the cliff and to repeat his fearless leap.
As I looked over at Mr. Smith he was shaking his head and mumbling to himself, “Poor Tricky Dickey. He’ll never admit that wage and price controls are both damaging and futile.” He then looked over at me and once more motioned for me to follow him.
Things were noticeably hotter when we reached the next clearing. There I saw an expansive desert. In the middle of the desert was a heavy set man who was building a fence, but as he built the fence a group of short brown skinned people dressed in lively green, red and with outfits, carrying tequila bottles and Chihuahua’s would knock it down and run across the desert making loud noises (Andale, Andale, Arriba, Arriba) forcing the man to start all over again.
As the man stood and looked back I recognized his face. I had just seen him on the television before this odyssey began. It was Lou Dobbs. I heard Mr. Smith grumbling behind me “It takes more than a fence to control the labor market.”
Again we continued our descent.
Now the incline on the trail became extremely steep, and the heat became almost unbearable as we reached a huge pit about 60 feet deep. We had to be careful not to fall in. Inside the pit were three people, each tied to post. One post had a sign that said Social Security, the second Federal Reserve and the last one Income Tax.
I leaned over and squinted in order to make out who these individuals were. Tied to the post with the “Social Security” sign was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, smoking a cigarette on a long filter. Next to him, under the “Federal Reserve” sign, was Senator Nelson Aldrich. Finally, under the Income tax sign, was Woodrow Wilson. Just as I had finished identifying these individuals a blood curdling scream came from the other end of the pit, and a huge boulder began to move revealing a huge two legged hoofed figure with large horns.
The monstrous apparition carried a large whip in his right hand and, as it approached the three men tied to the post, they began to squirm and move in order to avoid the wrath of the menacing beast. The beast face was human and, though not easily identifiable, I was able to recognize Carlo Ponzi. The beast slowly walked in the direction of the three men and, once he was within ten feet of them, stopped and gazed menacingly upon all of them. The three men cowered and tried to put as much distance between them and the beast as possible, but it was to no avail. The beast swung his right arm and began to mercilessly whip the three men while letting out a shriek that seemed to burst my ear drums. I had come to close to the edge of the pit and tripped and began to fall in. I could hear Mr. Smith behind me stating dispassionately, “seems like there’s no escaping this beast.” As I fell into the pit I could see I had attracted the beast's attention and he growled at me, showing me his large fangs encrusted with gold dollar signs.
I awoke on my couch drenched in sweat. The TV was still on, with one talking head or another blabbering about unemployment and falling government revenues. I looked around but saw no sign of Mr. Smith so I poured myself a double and changed the channel. Easy Money, featuring Rodney Dangerfield was on. Easy money - now there’s something we can all use, right? At least Henry Paulson thinks so.
Emiliano Antunez, 41, DDS Degree UCE Dom Rep, semi anarchist, quasi-nihilist, and a touch of pragmatist, with a penchant (Midas touch) for business and clueless in politics (campaigned hard for mayor of Miami and got less than 1% of the vote “the masses are revolting”). Formerly on the Board of Miami Dade Housing and Finance Authority and currently serving on the board of the Overtown Community (in)Action Agency.
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